Our apartment in Granada had two terraces both facing a massive fort which sprawled over the top of a nearby hill. At night it was beautifully lit highlighting the multi-shaped earthen colored towers and ramparts.
When my multigenerational family arrived in Granada, we caught a taxi from the bus station (the ALSA bus we rode from Malaga to Granada gave each passenger a bag of treats, earphones for the radio plug-in, and free Wi Fi which worked for most of the 2 hour ride), and were dropped off at a small shop in the Albayzin which is the oldest neighborhood in the city. We waited a relatively short time for the owner of the VRBO apartment we were renting to arrive, but it was long enough to feel the need to find ways to entertain my four year old granddaughter as we waited.
From there, the owner Christine walked us to the apartment over hilly, cobblestone alleys, and homes with white stucco facades, some of which had colorful plaques with the name of the casa. The was a view of the neighborhood peeking out here and there while we seemed to be walking in a never-ending maze from which we would never emerge from in this lifetime. It was good to learn, however, the heart of the city was in a different direction and not too far from our place.
After previewing the modest 3 level apartment and depositing luggage in respective bedrooms, we ventured back into the maze to find the children’s flamenco classes Christine told us would begin at 4 p.m. and anyone was welcome to watch. These were to be held in the Sacromonte neighborhood where gypsies have made their home for ages, building homes into the side of the hills above the Darro River. After traipsing up, up, and up through the neighborhood, we found an outdoor cafe for tapas and liquid refreshments and a view of the looming Alhambra. The only people we saw were several residents either strolling down the road or standing in their doorway smoking cigarettes wearing bathrobe and slippers. Siesta time was over and we were a novelty. Never found the flamenco school but we had a fascinating walk. There were no tourists, other than us.
Back to the Albayzin we experimented with two bars serving tapas in our area. One was at the top of the Moorish bazaar who served olives in a bowl. A church next door was having evening matins sung by nuns in white habits. Jordan and I went inside quietly and stood very still listening as we glanced at one another with eyebrows raised in awe. The nun’s voices were crystal clear and quite lovely to hear.
We all walked down the steep narrow road to the other bar which served half loaves of bread and cheese in a medieval atmosphere of knights in shining armor, swords, and Madonna music videos playing too loud. Madonna’s music video did not hold the same allure as the nun’s voices.
I bought Jordan a belly dancer scarf in the bazaar as I could not resist the sweet pink color and glint of silver coins sewn into the fabric fringe. Her dad didn’t let her wear it around town the next day in fear of her either losing it or that it sent the wrong message, I’m still not quite sure which.
The following morning as everyone else slept in while I got up early, made coffee and caught up on my correspondence while sitting on the terrace facing the Alhambra. By noon we were heading into town with specific goals in mind. One was to print our Alhambra tickets at a recommended bookstore, I needed to buy a phone so we could keep in touch when in separate places, do some grocery shopping, exchange currency (and get robbed by the commission), plus see the main cathedral. We unknowingly passed by a couple of these understated storefronts and had to double back, also ended up at a supermarket at a greater distance than we had hoped, couldn’t find the cathedral easily, and I was building up a doozy of a blister from the new shoes.
Before leaving home in Seattle, I had changed my mind about bringing a pair of broken in shoes because they were too heavy. I found the same brand in a lighter weight fishermen style sandal/shoe. They had been fine in Malaga but all the walking on this day and the day before did my feet no favors. It is another reminder to ALWAYS break in shoes BEFORE the trip, not during. I now had a bleeding blister which made the trek back to our apartment less than enjoyable. However, what a great excuse to stop for beverages and tapas twice in one long stretch of an afternoon. Three stops would have been better.
All the misery aside, this town is so vastly different from one neighborhood to the next that one really can feel the difference quite clearly. Here we were staying in a 1000 year old section of town walking into a city which teemed with protestors at one end and high-end shopping districts with ritzy hotels at the other end. Then add in all the churches and architecturally interesting building facades hundreds of years old in between. So much to see!
There were protestors not far from the cathedral as we arrived. As we waited for the light to change, my son Christopher indicated to look across the street. Kelly gasped and said she was totally “creeped out” and I laughed while going for my camera to get a shot of this once in a lifetime vision. A baby carriage by the protestors had a baby with a blue bonnet on waving its’ hands with a pacifier in his mouth. I looked a little closer and saw the baby is not what I expected. Instead of a child, there was s a grown man whose body is somehow camouflaged by the carriage, with garish rouge on his cheeks and a mocking look about him. I quickly took the photo and later saw in the photo that he was looking straight at me giving me a thumbs up. Creepy is an understatement. The last thing we wanted was for Jordan to see this since the silver painted man pretending to be a statue outside another church was scary enough (even though he stayed very frozen in his pose, his eyes and mouth twitched mischievously at her as she scurried past).
Other than the occasional oddities seen on every adventure, one thing very noticeable to me during these few days in Spain was how friendly and warm the Spanish people appeared. The overall personality of this country is kind and inviting.